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How is hearing loss linked to the brain?

"by " Albert Stein

Research has revealed a link between hearing loss and the brain, suggesting that your ears may influence more than just how well you are able to communicate with others.

A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine found seniors with some degree of hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia* over time than those who never lose their hearing.

This may help researchers to find new ways to combat dementia – a problem that affects many facets of society.

In fact, the John Hopkins scientists behind the study claim hearing aids may be able to delay or even prevent dementia by improving hearing.

However, scientists are yet unaware of why the link exists. The study may suggest that there may be a common pathology in the way people decode sounds over the years and that this can overwhelm the brain, making them more likely to develop dementia as a result.

Another reason, they speculated, for this link is that hearing loss can make people less able to participate socially, which can lead to isolation. This is a known risk factor that increases the chances of dementia.

Researchers did take into account other factors that could increase the chances of dementia when conducting the study, such as diabetes, age, sex, race and blood pressure but found the hearing loss link was still strong.

If you or someone you love develops hearing loss, it is important to seek help from a trained clinician who will be able to offer solutions to the problem. Not only will hearing aids or other tools help you to communicate better but they may decrease the chances of developing cognitive problems such as dementia in later life. If you’re concerned about your hearing, book a hearing test by calling 1800 340 631 or click here.

*Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hearing Loss Linked to Accelerated Brain Tissue Loss. Accessed January 22, 2014. Available here.